Florence Takes Steps to Protect Its Monuments From Earthquakes

One expert has recommended the creation of an "anti-seismic museum."

How to protect Michelangelo's David is under discussion in Florence, after recent Italian earthquakes. Image Wikimedia Commons.
How to protect Michelangelo's David is under discussion in Florence, after recent Italian earthquakes. Image Wikimedia Commons.

While some countries convene to outline measures to protect historic art, architecture, and artifacts from war and terrorist attacks, Italy is taking steps to prevent its treasures from natural disasters, the Art Newspaper reports.

In light of recent Italian earthquakes—including one with a 6.2 magnitude in August that devastated the town of Amatrice, killing 295; and two 5.4 and 5.9 magnitude quakes that destroyed, among other objects, 15th-century frescoes in Umbria—government councils and art experts in Florence are evaluating how the city can protect its heritage from potential future earthquakes.

The Italian government has already received €30 million ($31 million) from the EU to aid in reconstruction efforts, and has appealed for more funding.

Florence is home to countless masterpieces of art and architecture from the 12th to the 15th centuries. The city is essentially a Renaissance city, from the Uffizi Gallery, to countless Medici palaces, the iconic Duomo and Campanile designed by Giotto, and Michelangelo’s David, once displayed at the Palazzo della Signoria, and currently housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

In 2014, a team of geoscientists found micro-fractures in the David’s ankles. Weighing in at over six tons and standing at 17 feet tall, the risk that massive sculpture could collapse now has a renewed sense of urgency.

Architect Fernando De Simone is calling for Florence to build an “anti-seismic museum” that could house the David and other important works, while the Accademia’s director Cecile Hollberg and culture minister Dario Franceschini have discussed the creation of an earthquake preservation plan.

Another structure with monumental height, the 280-foot Campanile, is next in line to get a seismic-stability assessment.

The study—which will assess cracks in the structure and its foundations—will be carried out by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the 700-year-old organisation in charge of the Duomo, and led by Francesco Gurrieri, who has worked on preservation efforts of the leaning tower of Pisa.


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